more putin menace

Pindosi Media Blames Putin Conspiracy for Homegrown Trump Phenomenon
Adam Johnson, AlterNet, Jul 20 2016

Donald Trump is the media’s favorite excuse to bash Official Pindostani Enemies. His Rorschach politics that shift almost weekly allows overworked writers to project onto Trump whatever traits they need to make an analogy stick (and deadline met). Over the past year Trump has been Nicolas MaduroJoseph Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Saddam Hussein, an African dictator, Bashar al-Assad, Bernie Sanders, Fidel Castro, Ayatollah Khomeini, Hugo Chavez (a dozen times!), Mao Zedong, a Chinese communist (present day), a Chinese communist (1980s), Caligula, Rodrigo Duterte, Jeremy Corbyn, Pinochet, Norse god LokiBrexit, Napoleon, Barry Goldwater, Mussolini, Nero, Andrew Jackson, Voldemort, Groucho Marx, Adolf Hitler, Moqtada al-Sadr, Joseph Goebbels, L. Ron Hubbard, King George III, Richard Nixon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Basically the entire cast of Game of Thrones, Batman vs. Superman, and Donald Trump himself. Twice. The Daily Beast alone has accused Trump of simultaneously being a communist, a fascist, an Iraqi Shia cleric, an Iranian Shia cleric, a Republican president from the ’70s, a Russian president from the present, a Roman emperor, and a cult leader. Put simply, Trump is whomever we need him to be.

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And the most popular and geopolitically convenient person pundits need him to be is Russian “strongman” Vladimir Putin. The liberal hawks who comprise a great deal of the Democratic and media establishment love nothing more than to use far-right boogeymen like Trump as a means of bashing foreign enemies, and Putin satisfies this impulse with little effort or imagination. Trump bad, Putin bad, both vain and ideologically unpredictable, the takes practically write themselves. Above all, the Trump-bashing as a means of mocking Official Enemies permits one to appear anti-fascist and anti-racist while still properly ingratiating oneself to the NatSec crowd. For careerist center-left pundits it’s a win/win with no downside; thus its ubiquity. With regard to Putin, this trope has been taken one step further. Not only is Trump similar to Putin, he is now secretly plotting with him. This innuendo-laden take reached new lows with a Slate piece earlier this month by Franklin Foer, a fellow at the State Dept-funded (see, guilt by association is fun) New America:

>Putin’s Puppet: If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests, and advance his own, he’d look a lot like Donald Trump.

The entire premise of the piece relies on the paranoid assumption that Putin wants to “destroy the West”:

Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West, and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump.

Wait, what? Putin may want to undermine the West. He may want to curb the expansion of NATO, but destroy it? Is he Magneto? This is the type of unhinged, over-the-top language that goes unchallenged when discussing Pindostan’s favorite Eastern menace. Note, the author never outright says Trump is actually “Putin’s puppet,” only that they have been nice to each other in the past and Trump’s nominal lack of hostility toward Russia serves the interests of Putin. But the provocative headline and political attack ad-like scary black-and-white photos of a menacing Putin leering behind Trump let the reader’s mind fill in the blanks. Indeed, if you’re trying to link two people who have never actually met, just photoshop them together. That’s how photojournalism works, right?


The primary complaint of the piece is that Trump and some of his advisers have overlapping business interests in Russia. But this, of course, is true of Clinton with several countries. The problem isn’t the underlying issue of conflicts of interests (an otherwise serious problem), it’s who those conflicts are with. This is a political issue, not an ethical one, rendering Putin-Trump pearl-clutching arbitrary at best and hypocritical at worst. Is it possible that Putin prefers Trump? Of course, it is. But the gap between other countries leaders liking a candidate and secretly controlling them is light years wide. On Monday, liberal hawk Jon Chait of New York Magazine took it one step further, asking the positively Alex Jones-esque question: “Is Donald Trump Working for Russia?” The article went on to do what any YouTube conspiracy theory video does: make a lot of innuendo, show a few links and use a “hey, I’m just asking questions” framing. Chait doesn’t actually think Trump is working for Russia, but it doesn’t matter. Donald Trump wanted to take some bellicose language out of the RNC platform aimed at Russia and this is a gesture that can only be done by someone who is a secret FSB agent. Never mind that by removing support for lethal aid to the pro-Pindo Ukrainian government the RNC’s position is now exactly that of President Obama’s. Chait had Cold War paranoia to sow and a candidate to mock. HuffPost joined the “Putin controls Trump” drumbeat Tuesday with “The Real Winner at the GOP Convention Is Vladimir Putin,” co-authored by Akbar Shahid Ahmed who writes for the Global Post, a joint partnership between HuffPost and the billionaire-funded pro-EU think tank Berggruen Institute:

Who’s to blame for the tensions between Putin and the West? Weak Europeans, for failing to deal with their continent’s problems, and President Barack Obama, for failing to make Putin respect him. Add in, of course, anyone who has a problem with Putin’s persistent support for the dictator of Syria, a man Trump sees as an “A”-grade leader despite his responsibility for the rise of the Islamic State group and the ongoing refugee crisis, and others who dispute Putin’s cleverly twisted depiction of Pindosi foreign policy.

First, it should be noted the link that supposedly shows Trump saying Assad is a “grade A” leader is 100% false. ABC is mixing up, either deliberately or accidentally, something Trump said about Putin, not Bashar al-Assad. Here’s what ABC wrote:

“I think in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A and our president is not doing so well,” Trump said of al-Assad during an interview with Fox News in September.

And here’s what was actually said, as tweeted out by Fox News last September:

@realDonaldTrump on Putin: “I think in terms of leadership he’s getting an ‘A’ and our President is not doing so well.” #OReillyFactor

While this “mix-up” may seem relatively benign, it displays how little fact-checking or thoroughness goes on when one is using the Trump spectacle to fan the flames of Cold War rhetoric. The piece went on to repeat a claim that Trump adviser Michael Flynn has “quite literally been on the payroll of Moscow” for taking a speaking fee from RT, a staunchly pro-Russian government cable network. By this standard, any pundit or journalist who has taken a speaking or appearance fee from RAND, VoA, the Urban Institute, New America Foundation, Brookings or dozens of other think tanks and media outlets has “quite literally” been on the payroll of Washington, since the government provides funds for these organizations. But it doesn’t matter since, as we know, the same standards don’t apply to both governments, because only one is uniquely clever and sinister. It’s important to be clear, because this point will be lost on many: none of this is to defend Flynn or Putin or Trump, because this trope isn’t really about any of them. It’s about policing foreign policy consensus, and piling on anyone who comes close to deviating from it. Russia is an enemy of Pindostan and must be uniformly seen as such or those making gestures of rapprochement must be stooges or spooks. Again, conspiracy theories that would never pass editorial muster are entirely routine when written about Official Pindosi Enemies.

One theory, casually repeated in a NYT op-ed in September of last year, that the 1999 Moscow attacks were FSB false-flag attacks so Putin could have a pretext to invade Chechnya, sounds strangely similar to popular conspiracy theory stateside that would have one blackballed from proper company. Pindosi editorial standards when it comes to bashing Russia, it seems, are in direct proportion to the tensions between our two countries. It bears repeating once more, for those who will invariably (and likely deliberately) misread this piece, this is not at all a defense of Putin, nor is it a defense of Trump, who is indeed a xenophobic, sexist, racist demagogue. But a secret plot by Russia is not needed for a Pindosi leader to possess such qualities. And the assumption that it is, just as with those who blamed Putin for Brexit, displays an arrogance and denialism on the part of Western media about their own countries’ faults. Certainly our otherwise tolerant and liberal political discourse could never breed such an extremist, right? No, clearly it must be a foreign influence. Like delusional middle-class parents convinced their drug dealer son is being corrupted by hip hop, Western media needs Russia to explain away its inability to keep its own house in order. In this case Pindostan’s own well-documented history of racism, xenophobia and chauvinism that, inevitably, vomited out the Trump spectacle. Blaming this entirely homegrown problem on Putin is an all-too-convenient trope and one that isn’t any less more convincing when couched in ostensibly liberal, pro-Democrat Party trappings.

The Hunt for Red Trump-tober
Justin Raimondo,, Jul 25 2016

Julian Assange has done it again: exposed the inner workings and crimes of our political class, that is. This time his target is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, whose emails were hacked by a Romanian who calls himself “Guccifer 2.0,” and posted online by WikiLeaks. As revelations tumble out of the enormous data dump. such as that DNC staffers conspired to target Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish, as an “atheist,” the collusion of the party leadership with the Clinton campaign to marginalize Sanders threatens the Democrats with a potential explosion on the eve of their convention. It’s “gas meets flame,” as one Democrat party leader put it. The Clinton campaign has responded by pushing a bizarre conspiracy theory that recalls the darkest days of the cold war. The DNC leak, they claim, is part of a plot by the Kremlin to elect Donald J Trump as POTUS. Yes, seriously. Here is Clintonista-in-chief Robby Mook telling Jake Tapper:

Experts are telling us Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts are now saying the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.

Echoing neoconservative complaints that efforts to insert a call for giving Ukraine offensive weapons were scotched by the Trump campaign, Mook pointed to this as “evidence” that the Russians have infiltrated and taken over the Republican party. That’s their answer to the flood of scandal pouring out of the DNC emails: a reiteration of the plot of “The Manchurian Candidate,” with a little bit of “Red Dawn” thrown in for good measure. Who are these vaunted “experts”? On the technical side, Mook is referring to a company being paid by the DNC to “investigate” the hacking of their server. If you think there’s a bit of a conflict of interest that throws CrowdStrike’s objectivity into question, you may be quite right. Other experts, with no financial stake in this, disagree with the widely-touted contention that the hackers were Russians or Russian agents:

What top technologists know for sure is that at least two groups of hackers were willing to take a major risk and make a substantial investment to access the DNC’s network. Who is behind the attacks remains unclear and, unfortunately, a satisfying answer isn’t likely to come any time soon. Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of cyber-security strategy at Illumio, told Time: “Attribution is incredibly difficult. I wouldn’t say impossible, but it’s very difficult. Investigations like this do not wrap up quickly and often do not wrap up at all, because it’s very hard to tell where they came from.” Amit Yoran, the president of the cyber-security firm RSA, was also non-committal on whether there’d ever be a smoking gun. He told Time: “I think attribution is one of those topics that people like to rush to, because it makes for sexier reporting. You want to make a meaningful story for non-technologists. Saying you know who was responsible makes for a very compelling story. But it’s also very hard to do well in the cyber domain, especially over a short period of time with a sophisticated actor.”

Gleicher was the National Security Council’s White House cyber-security director but, hey, compared to Robby Mook, what does he know? The other category of “experts” Mook cites are specialists in the fine art of smearing, like fired New Republic editor Franklin Foer, who proclaimed Putin the “real winner” of the Republican National Convention, Jeff Stein at Newsweek, who wrote “Does Donald Trump have a subversive partnership with Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine?” and Israel’s unofficial ambassador to the Pindosi media, Jeffrey Goldberg, who takes the lead in the hunt for red Trump-tober, writing:

The Republican nominee for president, Donald J Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

This election is rapidly turning into one of those unintentionally campy anti-Communist movies from the 1950s. A recent “story” in the increasingly ridiculous Daily Beast is headlined: “Trump Invites Putin to Invade Melania’s Home Town,” which brings to mind the classic 1949 film “I Married a Communist!” Only in the case of that epic, the studio were too embarrassed to release it under its original title, and changed it after the previews to “The Woman on Pier 13.” The Clinton campaign and their neocon fellow-travellers, lacking the capacity for embarrassment, have no problem with plainly enunciating their McCarthyite theme. This tidal wave of hysterical cold-war-era propaganda depicts Russia, a ramshackle nation in decline with a plummeting birth rate, a crippled economy and a military budget that palls in comparison to that of Pindostan and its NATO allies vassals, as practically all-powerful. Just look at the list of recent developments and political personalities the Kremlin is said to be manipulating: not only the victory of Donald Trump, but the triumph of Brexit, the success of Jeremy Corbyn, the DNC leaks, the rise of Hungary’s Victor Orban, the rise of the European far right, the rise of the European far left, the rise of the National Front, the views of the President of the Czech Republic, and the actions of the Republican platform committee.

Like all crackpot theories, the Clintonista version of None Dare Call It Treason imbues the Russians with nearly supernatural powers: it’s Alex Jones for blue-staters. Whenever the political class decides that someone has gone “beyond the pale,” they attack him as exemplifying “the paranoid style in Pindosi politics,” a trope invented by neocon precursor and fake-historian Richard Hofstadter. As is so often the case, this is merely a projection of their own paranoia, which is richly mocked by Adam Johnson in his dissection of Franklin’s Foer’s farrago of falsehoods:

The entire premise of the piece relies on the paranoid assumption that Putin wants to ‘destroy the West’: “Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West, and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump.” Wait, what? Putin may want to undermine the West. He may want to curb the expansion of NATO, but destroy it? Is he Magneto? This is the type of unhinged, over-the-top language that goes unchallenged when discussing Pindostan’s favorite Eastern menace.”

It would be a mistake to attribute this hopped-up rhetoric to election year theatrics. It points to trends that have been building for quite a while, and will transform both the political landscape and the international scene. As I’ve written here before, the Pindosi political spectrum periodically undergoes a switch in polarities when it comes to foreign policy. During the 1930s and 40s, the GOP and the “right” were “isolationist,” i.e. pro-peace, and it was the “left” and the Democrats who were clamoring for military and diplomatic intervention abroad. With the coming of the cold war, the parties and their attendant ideological movements switched sides, with the rightists calling for a military “rollback” of the Soviet bloc and the left cautioning against foreign intervention and the danger of a nuclear conflict that could destroy all life on earth. When the communist colossus fell, yet another polarity switch was in the works until the 9/11 attacks delayed the process, which is now proceeding apace. With the ascension of Trump, who threatens to get us out of NATO, out of the Pacific, and out of the business of defending the rest of the world from itself, the Republican party and much of the conservative movement is rejecting the globalist conception of Pindostan as the world’s gendarme-in-chief. Yes, there’s still the aftermath of the 9/11 Effect to deal with, and the blowback from our ‘war on terrorism’, but you’ll note that Trump always says he’s going to pulverize ISIS ‘quickly’:

We’re going to do it fast!

Whether or not we should believe him is another matter: the point being that he feels obligated to pay lip service to the now established principle of “Pindostan First”: distaste for foreign meddling. Hillary Clinton represents the exact opposite worldview. Hers is a decidedly protracted interventionist vision of Pindostan’s role in the world, and she’s apparently settled on a new global bogeyman in order to rationalize her program of serial regime change: Russia. Having likened Putin to Hitler, she is now following up with her own domestic “brown scare,” which bears an eerie resemblance to the “red scare” we Baby Boomers remember with not a trace of fondness. If and when Mrs Clinton makes it to the White House, she and her Myrmidons will launch a new cold war that could quickly escalate into a very hot one. Once again, the threat of war with nuclear-armed Russia will be center stage, and perhaps the day is not far when Pindo schoolkids will once again be going through a “duck and cover” routine in the classroom, and every family will be urged to build a backyard bomb shelter. The new era certainly has its ominous aspect, but there are also hints of sunshine behind the storm clouds. The Trumpian takeover of the GOP means the exodus of the neocons, the command center of the War Party, and their re-entry into the Democrat foreign policy Establishment. We are already beginning to see this with the defection of such neocon notables as Robert Kagan and Max Boot. The abortive third party efforts of the #NeverTrump crowd didn’t amount to much anyway, and the rest of the clan will troop however reluctantly back to where they, or rather, their ideological forefathers, came from in the first place. As I predicted in 2007:

For these guys, it’s rule or ruin: they don’t care about regaining control of Congress (they gave up on that distant possibility a long time ago) or saving a conservative vote on fiscal and other matters. They care about one issue and one issue only: war and more war, as far as the eye can see. When they’ve run the GOP into the ground and reduced it to a mostly regional party, they’ll abandon the dried-up husk and emigrate back to where they came from:the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democrat Party, where they can join Joe Lieberman, Joshua Muravchik, and Hillary Clinton’s neocon fan club in ginning up a war with Iran.

With the tilt of the Democrats toward becoming the party of war as well as Big Government, complementary aspects of the same organizing principle, the Republicans will inevitably trend in the opposite direction. The political polarities are switching once again and this presents the anti-interventionist movement with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Trump, for all his inconsistencies and incoherence, is defining the GOP’s line of march from this day forward, and as he put it in his acceptance speech, it is going in one direction:

Pindostanism, not globalism, will be our credo.

Our task now is to define what that means in terms of policy, and to defeat the new incarnation of the War Party and its neocon brain trust.

Red scare: Beltway crowd lashes out at Trump as Putin’s tool to ‘destroy the west’
Philip Weiss, MondoWeiss, Jul 25 2016

Something really is breaking loose with the Donald Trump nomination. He has so frightened the establishment with his refusal to hire the usual experts and his trashing of the “media elites” and his comments against NATO that the Beltway crowd has gone haywire, striking back by saying that Trump is a tool of the Russians! And not only that but the Russians hacked the Democrat Party emails and gave them to Wikileaks to help Trump. This has to be seen to be believed. In the last week a whole crowd of neocons and liberal internationalists has made the assertion that Trump is acting in Russia’s interest. Trump’s understanding of Pindostan’s role in the world “aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests,” Jeffrey Goldberg explained at the Atlantic. While Franklin Foer at Slate said that Trump is serving Vladimir Putin in Putin’s effort to “weaken” Pindostan and “destroy the west.” The Clinton campaign is joining in on the craziness. On CNN today, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager said that “Russian state actors” were behind the leaks of 20,000 DNC emails that so embarrassed the Dems on Friday; and Trump has a hand in it, because he reshaped the Thug platform to make it pro-Russian! Those emails have now resulted in the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the chair of the DNC, because they revealed that she was not playing fair with Bernie Sanders And Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, is blaming the Russians, per the WaPo:

Mook said on Sunday’s CNN State of the Union: “There’s evidence Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole those emails, and there are experts saying they are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump. I don’t think it’s coincidental these emails were released on the eve of our convention here. We need to be concerned Trump and his allies made changes to the platform to make it more pro-Russian, and we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn’t intervene. So I think when you put it all together, it’s a disturbing picture.” In a statement emailed to the WaPo, Trump’s campaign called that assertion a “joke.”

It’s no joke at Slate, where Franklin Foer went in this week for a fresh form of redbaiting:

Trump’s inner circle is populated with advisers and operatives who have long careers advancing the interests of the Kremlin.

The echo chamber here on the Russian story includes members-in-good-standing Robert Kagan, David Brooks, Paul Krugman, Josh Marshall. It sure looks like someone has been circulating talking points about Trump as Putin’s trojan horse; and that it would be worth it to have a new cold war with Russia and Iran, if we can only get Hillary Clinton elected. Foer says Putin wants to “destroy” the West, using Donald Trump. Look at this chain of airtight logic:

In the end, we only have circumstantial evidence about the Russian efforts to shape this election: a series of disparate data points and a history of past interference in similar contests. But the pattern is troubling, and so is the premise. If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to serve his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump. The Republican nominee wants to shatter our military alliances in Europe. He cheers the destruction of the EU. He favours ratcheting down tensions with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, both as a matter of foreign policy, and in service of his own pecuniary interests. A Trump presidency would weaken Putin’s greatest geostrategic competitor. By stoking racial hatred, Trump will shred the fabric of Pindosi society.

Notice the Syria reference. This laboratory geopolitics makes Putin and Iran the main stirrers-up of trouble in the world, thereby meshing with the claim that Iran is the chief fount of terrorism in the world, which has been promoted by Hillary Clinton’s brains trust and the anti-Iran deep state inside the Obama administration. Clinton has played these cards directly, in an ad saying that she has “taken on Putin.” That ad shows Clinton on a stage with Bibi. That right-wing strongman reached into our politics last year and tried to undermine the greatest global diplomatic achievement of the post-Iraq era, the Iran deal. And his militantly racist policies are doing more to destroy Pindostan’s reputation than even Donald Trump on a bad day. He seems a lot worse than Vladimir Putin. When is someone going to talk about his influence? Maybe that’s the point.

This hits Richard’s weak spot, his Russophobia…

Trump-Putin-Lieberman and the Axis of Evil
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Jul 22 2016

The media has done a decent job eviscerating Trump’s acceptance speech and its panoply of lies. So I don’t need to go over well-ploughed ground. But I did want to note several mid-east-related foreign policy lies which have been neglected in media commentary. First, Trump said that Iran “Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons.” There isn’t even a guarantee that Iran was on the path to nuclear weapons before the recent nuclear deal. But it certainly isn’t on the path to getting them now, nor can it be for another fifteen years, when the deal ends. He also went on the warpath about the existential threat posed by Islamism to this country:

To make life safe in Pindostan, we must also address the growing threats we face from outside Pindostan: we are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS. Once again, France is the victim of brutal Islamic terrorism.

Not so fast. To say France was once again the target of terrorism might be accurate. But there is no proof so far that the Nice attack was Islamist terror. Note also, that Trump didn’t use the word “Islamist,” which I just did. He used the far more sweeping term “Islamic,” which connotes that Islam itself is a religion of terrorism. Yet another of the hateful, racist Islamophobic Trumpisms which have made him infamous. French authorities have arrested a number of possible accomplices of the Nice killer. All one can say at this point is that they all are Muslim. No French authority has provided any direct evidence of contact between any of them and ISIS. It is possible that this was an Islamist terror plot. Or it may have been an expression of rage at the failure of the life of a Tunisian immigrant to France who had a dead-end job and a rancid life immersed in bisexual conquest and sexual excess. Trump made an even greater error when he said this about the Orlando shooting:

In Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Pindosis were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.

The only evidence Omar Matin had any connection to ISIS is 911 calls which he made to police. But nothing else in his life shows any interest in politics or Islamism. In fact, everything else in his life points in an entirely different direction. He was a closeted gay male who largely failed in his attempt to reach out to other gays for love or understanding. As with the Nice attack, Matin seems to have been a deeply troubled individual with mental health issues. But if you’re Donald Trump, why let truth or facts get in the way of a good story? In today’s NYT, Paul Krugman offers an alarming critique of Trump’s fawning admiration (sic – RB) for Vladimir Putin. He calls him the “Siberian Candidate” (an ironic reference to the film, The Manchurian Candidate). Trump sees in Putin a self-made man like himself. A man’s man. A tough man. But a man who can be reasoned with given proper terms. Like Trump, Putin is a man who disdains formalities, who despises convention. They are both men who believe in a few simple ideas whose authority derives from their own personalities. Given that Pindo policy for the past decade has been based on a profound suspicion of Putin’s motives and an attempt to contain his wild, expansionist impulses in Ukraine and elsewhere, Trump as president would take our foreign policy into completely uncharted waters. Trump has expressed profound scepticism of NATO and the alliance calling for mutual aid in the event of Russian attack. All this has to be music to Putin’s ears. Any western leader who himself favours disbanding alliances predicated on containing Russian power is a friend to the Russian leader.

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